That’s a wrap on another GFI

Six days ago, the curtain went up on the 31st edition of the Grand Forks International (GFI) baseball tournament, which has been such an integral part of the community for so long.

Someone said to me around 5:30 p.m. on Labour Day, “It’s (GFI baseball tournament) all over for another year.” “Yeah”, I responded, too tired to say much else.

Six days earlier the curtain went up on the 31st edition of the event, which has been such an integral part of this community for so long.

All the blood, sweat and tears reached a point of “the work is done, let the music begin, it’s time to play ball.”

Among other things you need favourable weather, and this year the sun shone brightly on James Donaldson Park.

The people came from far and wide, some for the first time, and others who have been making this a kind of annual pilgrimage.

There seemed to be more from our neighbouring West Kootenay communities than in recent years; the Okanagan was well represented and there were visitors from faraway places such as Switzerland, Yellowknife, Newfoundland and Winnipeg, and that’s only the fans.

The teams have players on their rosters from all over and this year, with Australia here for the first time, the GFI became more far reaching than ever before.

There was a buzz of uncertainty, which began on opening day when the Geelong Baycats took the field for their first game.

Some apprehension perhaps but also anticipation, from volunteers and spectators – not that anyone expected them to ride onto the field on kangaroos but wondering what their level of play would be and maybe feeling a little anxiety for this team from Australia.

Speaking with someone three weeks prior to the tournament on the subject of this Australian team, they replied, “That’s a long way to come to lose all their games.”

You will read in another place in the Gazette whether that person’s prognosis came true.

The Langley Blaze came for the first time. Its roster was without a doubt the strongest and most impressive of any Canadian team in the history of this event.

Some may wonder why they didn’t win. The game is baseball and anything can happen on a given day, including meeting up with, well those fun-loving Aussies.

Team Canada came with several outstanding rookies; one of them, Jerod Bartnik from Surrey, finished the week with a batting average of .625.

For the uninitiated that’s good, in fact it’s astronomical. Needless to say Bartnik made the all-star team. His teammates came within a run of making it to the finals.

There were some high-scoring games during the round robin portion of the event, blowouts they are called. Not good for the fans nor the players but that’s part of a week-long baseball competition. The playoffs had some close games and outstanding individual performances.

Bingo was as popular as ever, the burgers were the best ever, the yellow jackets were the worst ever and the field looked absolutely beautiful.

There will be wonderful memories, which folks will take away from this recent chapter of the GFI.

I leave the readers with a moment that occurred in the Monday semifinal game between Australia and Seattle.

The Baycats were hanging on to a slim two run lead with one out in the ninth inning and Seattle threatening to score.

Jared Knuth was on the mound and the manager called for a new pitcher. The left fielder trotted in from his position and Jared walked towards him; they paused for a moment when they met part way, exchanged gloves, took their new positions and the game carried on.

The new pitcher was Ben Knuth, Jared’s brother.